LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s government announced Thursday it is winding down its coronavirus pandemic restrictions, following the path of other European countries where a surge in cases blamed on the omicron variant is ebbing.

Among the requirements being scrapped are: isolation if a close contact tests positive, limits on the number of people gathering in public areas, producing a digital vaccination certificate to gain entry to restaurants and other venues, and proof of a negative test to enter sports events, bars and discotheques.

However, face masks must still be worn indoors and a digital vaccination certificate must be shown to enter the country and on hospital and care home visits.

“This is one more step toward normal life that was snatched away almost two years ago,” Cabinet spokeswoman Mariana Vieira da Silva told a press conference.

The number of officially reported new daily cases of COVID-19 has dropped to almost 16,500, compared with more than 50,000 last month.

Daily deaths peaked at 303 in mid-January but fell to 42 on Wednesday.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital stands at just over 2,000, while at the end of last month it was almost 7,000. The number of patients in ICUs peaked at 904 in January and is now 132.

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